Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883. He was a sickly child with asthma, rickets and rheumatism. These ailments were the driving force to become as fit as he possibly could! Where he lived there was not a gym to go to or professional training to do, so he would go into the garden or into the woods and do exercise without any equipment. In 1912 he moved to England to be a circus performer, boxer and self defence instructor. Once the war broke out he was interned which gave him time to perfect this physical fitness regime of what we know now as 'Pilates'. In the final few years of the war Joseph worked on the isle of man in a hospital, helping wounded soldiers to walk again. He would connect springs and other stretchy material to their beds to help build up muscle strength.
In the 1920s Joseph Pilates moved to the USA where he set up his own gym and started his pilates classes with his specific 34 exercises. He had a set order to complete them in and a set number of repetitions that everyone would follow. He published two booklets before he died in 1967. The Pilates Foundation was set up by his wife Clara who was also a teacher and their former apprentices to continue teaching the classical way of pilates.